Structural and Functional Characterization of Host FHL1 Protein Interaction with Hypervariable Domain of Chikungunya Virus nsP3 Protein

Academic Article


  • ABSTRACTDecades of insufficient control resulted in unprecedented spread of chikungunya virus (CHIKV) around the globe and millions already suffered from the highly debilitating disease. Nevertheless, the current understanding of CHIKV-host interactions and adaptability of the virus to replication in mosquitoes and mammalian hosts is still elusive. Our new study shows that four-and-a-half LIM domain protein (FHL1) is one of the host factors that interact with hypervariable domain (HVD) of CHIKV nsP3. Unlike G3BPs, FHL1 is not a pre-requisite of CHIKV replication, and many commonly used cell lines do not express FHL1. However, its expression has detectable stimulatory effect(s) on CHIKV replication, and the Fhl1 KO cell lines demonstrate slower infection spread. The NMR-based studies revealed that the binding site of FHL1 in CHIKV nsP3 HVD overlaps with that of another pro-viral host factor, CD2AP. The structural data also demonstrated that FHL1-HVD interaction is mostly determined by LIM1 domain of FHL1. However, it does not mirror binding of the entire protein, suggesting that other LIM domains are involved. In agreement with previously published data, our biological experiments showed that interactions of CHIKV HVD with CD2AP and FHL1 have additive positive effects on the efficiency of CHIKV replication. This study shows that CHIKV mutants with extensive modifications of FHL1- or both FHL1- and CD2AP- binding sites remain viable and develop spreading infection in multiple cell types. Thus, such modifications of HVD may improve live CHIKV vaccine candidates in terms of their safety and stability of the attenuated phenotype.IMPORTANCEReplication of chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is determined by a wide range of host factors. Previously, we have demonstrated that the hypervariable domain (HVD) of CHIKV nsP3 protein contains linear motifs that recruit defined families of host proteins into formation of functional viral replication complexes. Now, using NMR-based structural and biological approaches, we have characterized the binding site of cellular FHL1 protein in CHIKV HVD and defined the biological significance of this interaction. In contrast to previously described binding of G3BP to CHIKV HVD, the FHL1-HVD interaction was found to not be a prerequisite of viral replication. However, the presence of FHL1 has a stimulatory effect on CHIKV infectivity and subsequently, the infection spread. FHL1 and CD2AP proteins were found to have overlapping binding sites in CHIKV HVD and additive pro-viral functions. Elimination of FHL1-binding site in nsP3 HVD can be used for the development of stable, live attenuated vaccine candidates.
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    Author List

  • Lukash T; Agback T; Dominguez F; Shiliaev N; Meshram C; Frolova EI; Agback P; Frolov I